Review and Giveaway on my blog @ Dee's Reads *I received a couple of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.
During a time of my life when I am beyond overwhelmed and have zero time to read, this book lured me away from grad school apps, working full time, and family issues-- just so I could dwell in it's amazing multi-dimensional glory.
The cover of this book is what initially intrigued me. Immediately I shelved it on my "cover-lust" shelf on Goodreads and then once I read the blurb I felt I NEEDED to read it. The topic of alternate dimensions is one that fascinates me. Although it may be common in the adult sci-fi genre, I feel that within YA it's scarce. This is perhaps because it's such a difficult thing to pull off. All the inevitable questions that come from creating a world where the MC jumps between dimensions need to be answered without taking away from the story. To be able to address these questions and set up a world where the feasibility of it is less sci-fi, more "advanced tech" is something that Claudia Gray actually pulled off.
The beginning was the "slowest" part for me. I saw slow only in comparison to the rest of the book. We jump right in to a familial situation at the peak of despair. The main character, Marguerite, is dealing with the sharp grief of losing her father. Sharper still, he seems to have been murdered by a close member of the family (one of their live-in interns). The suspect, Paul Markov, seems to have done the deed and jumped to another dimension to escape. Despite this set up, the book doesn't have the cold and clinical atmosphere that sci-fi often leaves with me.
Marguerite joins Theo, the other intern that her parents took in years ago to help them with their research. Theo and Paul are like brothers, but Paul's betrayal cuts too deep and leaves Theo with the determination to chase him across dimensions and demand and answer and then-- Paul's death. Marguerite catches him and demands to go with him, her youth showing when she doesn't think to leave a note or explanation to her grief-striken mother or sister, Josie. Although, her mom, a brilliant physicist figures it out pretty quick. Marguerite is the black sheep of the family. She is an artist among physicists; but she is far from ordinary, far from unintelligent.
Each universe was incredible. The detail and atmosphere was conjured up so quickly by Gray that within a single page I already had a picture of what Marguerite was seeing. It was such a wonderful escape to travel to these alternate dimensions with Marguerite. She went from her own dimension (aka our world now) to a society extremely more advanced than our own. I loved the cool tech in this one, and how you could talk and receive messages by pushing a button on your ring and a screen would show up in front of you. My initial concern: what happens to Marguerite of that dimension when our Marguerite jumps into her dimension? Gray explains this fairly easily and believably (at least, I thought so) by saying how that dimensions Marguerite would simply be "asleep" and would wake up when she jumped out. Any action or consequence that occured while she was checked out-- well, Marguerite of that dimension would have to deal with whatever was done.
My favorite parts of the novel occured when Marguerite follows Paul to Tsarist Russia. There she is actually a princess because her mother didn't marry her dad. Instead she married a Russian man and became royalty. Marguerite has completely different siblings, and her life as a princess is ...different. Paul is her guard in that dimension. Paul Markov in the Russian dimension was very dreamy. I felt their romance developed naturally.
I also need to add that I had read some reviews that criticized the book because Marguerite is hunting down her father's killer and hopping dimensions only to fall in love. That the romance somehow took away from the book. I feel I need to respond to this: I am not a big romance reader. More than once I have been known to dislike a book where the romance plays too dominant a role, but only when the plot suffers. I think it's important to say that this is not the case with this novel. The plot is only further enriched by the romance. As for those of you with concerns this is a love triangle book. DO NOT FRET. I can't say anything more, but it's not that type of thang. It makes sense when you read it. Marguerite is a smart young woman who braves the unknown to find out exactly who killed her beloved father and why. Along the way she really does discover what was hiding in her heart.
I can't wait to read the sequel. I have no idea what the premise will be, although I'm betting on the alternate dimensions and that the Firebird will be involved. I recommend this novel to anyone who finds the theory of alternate dimensions fascinating. Those of you who want a brilliant novel that centers around a smart and independent woman, with a historical and also futuristic feel-- you need to read this book.